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NFC North Whispers

Don't rule out Rice's return to Vikings this season

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By PFW staff

Following are several whispers that we've heard from around the NFC North:

• Vikings WR Sidney Rice has begun jogging, we hear, and could be a few weeks away from hitting the practice field. The team will have to make a call on Rice quickly at that point, but we are told not to assume that Rice can't return this season and make some kind of impact.

• We hear the Packers are far from fully committed to erratic P Tim Masthay, whose numbers aren't any better than those of Jeremy Kapinos last year. Don't be shocked if a few more shoddy outings trigger a search for a new punter with colder weather just around the corner, although the consensus seems to be that the pickings are extremely slim as far as available punters are concerned.

• While Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz didn't want to grade his wide receivers, at least publicly, he did single out WR Earl Bennett as one of the players who has impressed him in recent weeks. Bennett wasn't even on the active roster in Week One, but he's played when given an opportunity and could become a go-to guy for Jay Cutler in more manageable third-down situations.

• The Lions are still trying to figure out what to do with newly acquired LB Bobby Carpenter. The thought was that he might be able to help out inside and outside, but early looks indicate he might be slightly better on the outside. It still might be a week or two before he can regularly contribute to a weakened LB unit.

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